Students who wish to get into prestigious engineering institutes such as IITs and NITs in 2014 will have to compulsorily apply online.

This is the first year that the entire application process for JEE— including uploading of photograph and signature and payment of fees — is being done online, said CBSE officials. The online application process will start from November 15, 2013. The last date for application is December 26.

The admission process going wholly online may not be good news to many students who are not comfortable with computers, said S. Rajan, headmaster of a Corporation school here.

He said the CBSE must set up help centres, especially in the districts, to help parents and applicants. P. Sankari, a parent from Urapakkam, said they would have to depend on her son’s school teacher to fill up his online forms. “We are not clear about how to submit money and signature online,” she said.

S. Vaidhyasubramaniam, Dean (planning & development), Sastra University, said with states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra and Odisha adopting the test, the number of applicants was bound to increase this year. “To move the application process completely online is risky considering the low levels of internet penetration. It may be made online for those appearing in the online mode and should be optional, keeping the physical forms in place too.”

Gita Prabhu, managing director, AIMS Education, said the online admission process might force students and parents to depend on cyber café owners, agents, and others to fill up and submit their forms. “Parents seek others’ help in scanning and uploading documents, ticking preferences and other details. Many of these people may be unreliable and could make mistakes in the process.”

CBSE officials said the students need not worry and the process had only become simpler as there was no need to send documents anywhere.

All communication, an official said, will be sent to the registered email ids and mobile numbers of parents and students.

The offline examination is on April 6 while the online test will take place on April 9, 11, 12 and 19. Last year, over 14 lakh students took the test.